Feeding a horse that is food-aggressive can be scary: The horse quickly comes at the person with the food (or at another horse) with teeth bared, with what seems like no qualms about biting the hand the feeds him.
Food aggression can be grouped into three broad categories: true aggression, learned food aggression and extreme frustration.
True aggression is a reaction out of fear or trauma; the teeth make full contact–this is no idle threat. This type of aggression is rare and comes on with very little warning; this aggression situation requires professional training to overcome.
Learned food aggression typically takes place with humans and is accidentally trained into the equine. The horse is rewarded for small bad behaviors with food (like letting him eat from a bucket before it is hung on the wall) and the horse becomes increasingly more aggressive.
The final type of food aggression results from extreme frustration or arousal behavior, where the horse tosses his head, kicks out or paws toward the human to get what he wants. This is similar to how a horse would act if limited food were available.
Read more about food aggression and how to deal with it at Haygain.
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